Fall webworm not a cause for concern, experts say
While the fall webworm’s nest looks similar to that of the eastern tent caterpillar, its nest is usually smaller and less populated. (CTV Atlantic)
The fall webworm population is on the rise across the Maritimes but experts say the insect doesn’t pose a significant problem, despite its fondness for tree leaves.
Ed Czerwinski, a forester at the University of New Brunswick, says the webworm’s life, through late summer and early fall, comes at a time when it does limited damage.
“The tree stores sugars. From the sunlight they gather, and most of that’s done in early summer and by late summer, early fall, that’s mostly done and the tree doesn’t have any adverse effect from the fall webworm,” says Czerwinski.
While the fall webworm’s nest looks similar to that of the eastern tent caterpillar, its nest is usually smaller and less populated.
George Scott, who operates a nursery in Fredericton, says the fall webworm likes fruit trees and can be relatively simple to deal with.
“You can probably physically remove it, and most people probably don’t like the idea of getting their hands in the web, but if you put on a pair of gloves and physically remove it, that’s probably all you have to go through, really,” says Scott.
Because the fall webworm preys strictly on hardwood species, it’s not a significant concern to the forestry industry and, while populations were on the rise last summer and this summer, the boom is expected to end soon.
“They are cyclical. We may not understand the cycle that they’re in, but they do come and go,” says Czerwinski. “There is a natural parasite that will bring the population into check shortly.”
With frost in more weather forecasts, the fall webworm season isn’t expected to last much longer.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Andy Campbell